My interaction with the women in coffee at Embu the other day was simply epic.
Talking of Embu,a town where there are no tuktuks and a bodaboda ride costs 50 bob flat rate regardless of the distance as long as it is within the town, at least that is what my rider told me, talk of people marking territories, the explorer in me didn’t get the opportunity to explore much though. Last time I passed there I was in a canter,going to play the band at some place in Meru, that was when I played the trumpet in high school…
Going into the meeting I was rather anxious and didn’t know what to expect. Gladly I met some very inspiring young and young at heart women who seemed enthusiastic, successful and left me both challenged and inspired.
It was a diverse representation along the coffee chain; talk of the small scale farmer,large scale farmer, estate owners, marketers , Q graders, agronomists, researchers and what have you.( back in class five this lady teacher who I can’t remember her name used to say ,ecetera ecetera!)- I think that was the first person for me to hear with an ‘accent’
There I met a different crop of women who have managed to cheat poverty and are on the upscale in the coffee industry, women who Mama Mboi can look up to, have hope and say ‘ that’s the direction I am heading or want to head…’
Some of the things that I grasped in my multi asking capacity was that one of the reasons Mama Mboi gets paid peanuts is because the coffee value chain is long.
Farmer-co-op society-miller-marketer-buyer-dealer-exporter (and probably there are some in betweens…
That’s a whole rail trail from Mombasa to Nairobi, no Timbuktu! (when I grow up I might end up visiting Timbuktu! I’m obsessed)
That simply implies if the chain was shorter the costs would be less and perhaps mama Mboi would have slaughtered a goat for Christmas and probably would have invited a few neighbors to celebrate. A crate of soda could have been an added advantage.
I also gathered that a lot of farmers lack the knowhow and are clueless of the chain and what is essential and what is not hence end up being taken advantage of… for instance the growers and marketers license which means that with the license one can market their own coffee hence cutting or reducing the marketing charges or simply have a different marketer and miller( if I didn’t get that right ,it wasn’t me! My poor name is to blame.)
Farmers mostly at the lower level in the production chain are very ignorant of a lot of things which if they had the information they would utilize it properly for better returns and informed decision making.
One of the stories that inspired me is of this lady whose husband had gotten tired of her coffee trees due to decreased production. Apparently he wanted to lease them out but upon her requesting he gave them to her with a little capital to boost her off. She then took care of the trees and in no time turned around the not so productive trees into a successful venture. The coffee farm under her management made good returns that her husband was lured back into the venture. That’s the strength of a woman playing right in there. See, it can take a woman to streamline out things if only women were given equal opportunity and they believed in their magic touch and stuff…
“ ‘ A woman’s enemy is another woman’ if women were more united and supported one another then they would be a voice to reckon with.” Those are not my words but someone at the meeting pointed it out and well it’s something worth pondering. An empowered woman is an empowered society.
Issues climate change were also addressed and the women discussed on how it has affected coffee production and how it should be tackled. Adaptation of solar energy was given a big nod for all intends and purposes and I’m looking forward to how that goes because people like Mama Mboi,You and I would benefit majorly from such.
Some had names that I think are different. To me different and cool are synonyms. For instance there is this name that had me asking twice, just to confirm and yes the owner of the name is quite opinionated,confident and a go getter ,well versed with the industry and very inspiring to say the least. #goals#
Come to think of it how will one have such a name and not shine, see parents, giving your children proper names is crucial if not important . No worries though if yours is one of those …well … just mee so so kind of a name , I believe you can make anything out of your name, there is a catch though,hard work, trying and failing then trying again and again and again…well ,am on the fifth or so try…
You got to just lighten up and with a twinkle in your eye do your thing and pray that the gods be in your favor. Meanwhile you can have your cup of coffee while at it! Do not let peoples feigned perfectionism (the world is full of it) put off your light, for let no one lie to you , there is nothing as perfectionism for mortals. Try, err and be you. Enough preaching now!
I left the meeting challenged and inspired and for the love of me some adventure and exploring an idea of my very soon destination, a good getaway smelling of coffee might pump my adrenaline for a year or so…that is if mr.shilling smiles my way!
A part of me though wondering (on a lighter note) if my agriculture teacher had not kept calling my name out to wake me up even when I was not present making me drop the subject I would be something like , say an agronomist, no, don’t stare at me like you haven’t skived a class or two…. I can still hear him in his unmistaken Kamba accent “Mutono , you are nzleeping” Mmmh but as desiderata lyrics go “ no doubt life is unfolding as it should”…
Well, that’s all from my take. Anything else I consider confidential, if not the comment section is open…